William and Mary Law School

Barnard to receive Thomas Jefferson Award at Charter Day

  • Professor Jayne Barnard
    Professor Jayne Barnard
    Barnard, who is nationally known for her scholarly work on the rights of fraud victims, is the recipient of the 2011 Thomas Jefferson Award.

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She’s a nationally-recognized expert in corporations and white collar crime whose scholarly work allowed the victims of Bernie Madoff to face the now-convicted Ponzi scheme operator in court prior to his sentencing.

During the upcoming annual Charter Day ceremony on Friday, Feb. 4., William & May Law Professor Jayne Barnard will be recognized in a different way – as the recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award. She is only the third law professor to receive the award in the past 30 years and the sixth overall since its establishment in 1963.

The award, among the most prestigious at W&M, recognizes a person who has demonstrated a deep devotion and outstanding service to the College and whose life, character and influence on the College exemplify the principles of Thomas Jefferson.

What do those principles include?  “I imagine there’s a piece of creative thinking, a love for words, a piece of leadership, and a piece of public service in this award,” said Barnard, the James Goold Cutler Professor of Law and the Herbert V. Kelly, Sr., Professor of Teaching Excellence.

Barnard, who was the first to propose that people harmed by economic crimes should be able to present victim-impact testimony (also known as victim allocution) at sentence hearings, was invited to sit in the Manhattan courtroom where nine individuals testified against Madoff.

“A lot of fraud victims don’t ever want to raise their hands and say, ‘I've been defrauded,’ ” said Barnard.  “It’s very humiliating and debilitating to discover that you’ve lost your money.  What has been amazing in the last couple of years are these huge frauds where it’s still humiliating for many people, but victims organize and support each other and so their stories become more public.  These frauds have made us all more aware of the predatory criminals who engage in fraud.”

Her work was instrumental in Congress ultimately passing the Crime Victims Rights Act of 2004.

During the span of her 25-year career at W&M, Barnard has worked with colleagues across academic fields and staff members throughout campus.  Her leadership, guidance, and mentoring is evident from nomination letters submitted not only from the Law School but also from Sociology, Geology, Swem Library, and the Cohen Career Center.

In her nomination letter Kathleen Slevin, chancellor professor of sociology and vice provost for academic affairs, described Barnard as “always willing to serve the College. Jayne never turned down a request to serve on a campus-wide committee.  Yet, Jayne had every reason to deny requests to serve – an exceptional scholar, deeply committed teacher, and significant contributor to the Law School, she could easily have opted out of campus-wide service and claimed that her time was already over-extended.”

But service to others is part and parcel of who Jayne Barnard is, said Slevin.  “Her selflessness is legendary, her leadership exemplary, and her commitment to the common good is truly Jeffersonian.”

Barnard has held several governance roles at W&M and recently chaired the Law School’s Self-Study Committee.  This year-long introspective process involved students, faculty, and staff, and produced a 200-page document that led to the reaccreditation of the Law School.   In 2009-10, she chaired a Law School committee reviewing the school’s award-winning Legal Skills Program.

In September 2010, Barnard was elected President of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia (ACLU-VA).  Her ascension to the Presidency is the culmination of a 30-year commitment to the ACLU beginning when she was a practicing lawyer in Chicago, Ill.

Davison M. Douglas, Dean and Arthur B. Hanson Professor of Law, said Barnard is an extraordinary teacher who draws large numbers of students to her courses and is beloved by alumni.

“Jayne is someone who goes out of her way to work with students – for example, she has organized reading groups for students on particular topics of interest,” said Douglas.  “She doesn’t receive any teaching credit for these reading groups, but she does them because she knows that they are wonderful learning experiences for our students.”

Charter Day celebrates the anniversary of William & Mary’s founding 318 years ago, with festivities involving students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as the local community. Three Jefferson awards will be presented during the ceremony, including the Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award to a younger member of the faculty and the Thomas Jefferson Prize in Natural Philosophy to a senior student in math or the sciences.

“An award from my peers is wonderful and astonishing, but an award that’s named for Thomas Jefferson is really extraordinarily special,” said Barnard.